The Stream, July 13: More Floods and Droughts Means More International Aid

The Global Rundown

Flooding and droughts are causing China and several African nations, including South Africa and Kenya, to look beyond their borders for assistance and solutions. Growing better grass could make for more drought resistant crops. Meanwhile, US citizens are growing increasingly concerned with the current climate change discourse (or lack thereof). The UK is realizing it needs to build a better Britain, starting with its flood-susceptible infrastructure. One Cornell University student has already envisioned a New York City borough which will have no need to rise above rising sea levels.

“It will be soon too late to enact any real design transformation to avoid major consequences. Why not start to accept the doomed future as a starting point?” –Walmir Luz, on his new master plan for Manhattan, which incorporates major flooding as an aesthetic function of a changing climate, rather than an inevitable disaster. His design includes water permeable streets and marsh spaces. The thesis project has gained international notoriety after it earned Luz second place in the urban planning category at the A’Design Awards. (Tech Insider)

By The Numbers

$1 million Donation which the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation received from Apple this week. The funds are expected to help some of the 31 million South China citizens across 500 cities and towns affected by recent flooding. The country’s Ministry of Civil Affairs reports 164 people have been killed, while nearly 2 million have been evacuated. Apple is the first US company this year to donate to the CFPA. USA Today

256 Number of sand dams constructed by the Africa Sand Dam Foundation which are helping bring water to more than 12,700 eastern Kenyan homes. The dams are one of numerous initiatives to bring water to the estimated 1.3 million Kenyans who suffer from food insecurity. Another successful low-tech regional solution has been the creation of rock catchment systems for collecting rainwater. Huffington Post

$2.7 billion Amount of drought relief the Southern African economic bloc is requesting from the international community. The situation has becoming increasingly dire for bloc members over the past several months. South Africa has already declared a drought emergency for most of its provinces. Botswana is expected to declare its drought a regional disaster this month, joining Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. All told, more than 23 million people are in need of assistance as a result of droughts across the southern part of the continent. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

A recent report by the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change acknowledges that the country needs to make immediate large-scale infrastructure alterations to combat the effects of increased flooding. Especially at risk are the nation’s interconnected railway, bridge and energy networks. A governmental flood resilience review set to be released this month is expected to identify vulnerabilities in small-scale infrastructure as well. The Telegraph

New research on grasses –a family which encompasses maize, sugarcane and other important agricultural species– is getting to the root of how these plants react to drought. A team has demonstrated that water shortages suppress growth of the crown root, a critical structure unique to this plant family. Protecting and stimulating crown root development, perhaps through targeted breeding, could be one way to improve crop yields during drought.

On The Radar

A recent Guardian survey of its US readership suggests stress on food and water supplies is perceived as the most important impact of climate change, followed by concerns over rising sea levels. The publication’s online poll also indicates there is concern among voters over the low level of climate change discourse so far during the 2016 presidential race. The Guardian